The acclaim was not in short supply last year for Hou Hsiao-Hsien‘s “The Assassin.” The martial arts movie earned Best Director and Best Soundtrack at the Cannes Film Festival, was a critical darling, and landed on numerous best-of lists. But screenwriter and director Paul Schrader is having none of it.
Quite randomly, the director fired off his opinion about the picture on Facebook last night, writing that it’s “a compendium of art house cliches” that’s “overall, meh,” before invoking the mighty God Pauline Kael to return and back up his claims. Schrader is free to dislike the film, but considering he hasn’t made a good film himself in quite some time, it’s not a great look to casually spout off about one of 2015’s most well received films. Just a thought.
Schrader later doubled down on his comments, saying that “critics and viewers consciously or unconsciously purchase shares in an artist’s work,” to the point where they can to blind to any flaws. And that’s a fair argument, because that certainly does happen, with some fans and critics embracing directors so closely that they get a lot more leeway if their pictures don’t work. And for Schrader, “The Assassin” falls into that camp because “the assumption by stock holders that it it must be a masterpiece because he worked on it for eight years.”
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